The One Reason Avisail Garcia Is Still With The Miami Marlins

The odds of Avisail Garcia being with the Miami Marlins on Opening Day remain high, even if the organization is anything but high on the prospects of his regaining anything close to his All-Star form.
Miami Marlins v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Two
Miami Marlins v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Two / Harry How/GettyImages

Once upon a time...Miami Marlins outfielder Avisail Garcia was an All-Star.

Consequently, in a sport that relies more heavily than any other on statistics, there is always the chance of Garcia regaining that form, and the odds of a player who has performed at that level before can sometimes feel greater than say, a non-roster invitee breaking through as an above replacement contributor.

Which is something Garcia has never been for the Miami Marlins. Not in 2022, not in 2023, and almost assuredly not in 2024. Yet in the system he remains. And despite the fact he only has one hit this spring and had the same negative WAR last season as Jacob Stallings, a player the Marlins have already moved on from, he will almost certainly be on the Opening Day roster to kick off the 2024 season.

Why? Because new President of Baseball Operations Peter Bendix is fervently hoping that someone, anyone, will eat part of onerous $29 million remaining on his Marlins contract.

This is the point where I stress the use of the word part, so as to avoid stating the patently obvious. Ever since...well probably ever since the second month of Garcia's Marlins tenure, the pipe dream has been floated of moving the entire contract. Then those dreams shifted from unloading the bulk of his salary to merely swapping him out for an almost equally bad contract on another club, and hoping for some change of scenery magic.

No longer.

At this point? All Peter Bendix can possibly be hoping for is that someone, for some reason, agrees to cover enough of Garcia's pay for two years of Tristan Gray or Troy Johnston.

That's really it. Bendix was brought in to preside over and ultimately replace Kim Ng because of Miami Marlins owner Bruce Sherman's trauma from the double whammy of Avisail Garcia being terrible and Jorge Soler not opting out after 2022 as originally intended. Really, just Garcia though. The big contracts have not worked. Nor have the layers and layers of talent in the minors promised and prophesied by former team president Derek Jeter- the man responsible more than anyone else for Garcia's presence on the Marlins roster. All of which means that the best, most Rays-tastic thing that Bendix could relieve his new organization of the albatross of a contract that precipitated his hiring in the first place. More to the point, doing so without having to attach multiple top prospects as an enticement.

Again, that's the dream. Avisail Garcia hitting .800 the rest of the spring, cranking off 8 HRs in April, and being flipped to a surprise contender with money to burn for a player to be named later and a bucket of baseballs. Such a feat might buy Bendix two years of job security at a minimum, provided he plays nice with the rest of Sherman's money going forward.

Unfortunately, that dream is just that- a dream. Which moves things along to the next best thing for Bendix- making sure his new boss doesn't spend any more money on a replacement player for the below replacement value Garcia. If Garcia could just perform well enough in spring training and/or this April to entice some club into believing that maybe he's rediscovered something...and picking up even five to ten percent of that remaining $29 million tab.

In other words, just enough to pay the salary of the next man up.

It's unfortunate that it has had to come to this for Garcia and the Marlins. Not just because it has pretty clearly poisoned Sherman against long-term contracts in free-agency either, even though that does certainly sting. No, it's unfortunate because Garcia obviously does have talent within him. He never would have reached this point of being a well-compensated major leaguer without it, and it's reductionist in the extreme to say he was entirely a byproduct of American Family Field and the juiced ball era. Furthermore, he has been very open about owning up to the fact he expects more of himself and needs to improve. Injuries have also played a big part in all of this. Yet something is clearly broken here, and the surest path to fixing it is 500-600 at bats against MLB pitching. If it can be fixed, that is.

The only problem is that's a luxury a team trying to contend can't possibly afford to offer Garcia, whether he's making $15 or $15 million. It would be a tough pill to swallow even if he was a Gold Glove caliber defender, and it's an impossible one given how mediocre he actually is in that department. The Marlins will give him a chance to get back on track, but a far more fleeting one.

If that getting back on track hasn't happened by Mother's Day though? Don't be surprised if the Miami Marlins finally decide to cut bait on Avisail Garcia once and for all.

Edward Cabrera is ready to take the next step. dark. Next. Edward Cabrera is ready to take the next step